Review by chris2001

"Prepare for destruction - the destruction of your social life, that is!"

Ahh, Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction (henceforth D2:LoD). A game combining the best bits from both the RPG and the action/adventure genres, and therefore a game that will appeal to fans of both. The main features added in this expansion are a new Act, complete with 5 new quests and 2 brand-spanking new characters, the Druid and the Assassin. Other, more subtle changes include the addition of many new items and item types, an increases Stash size (about bloody time...), a new screen resolution which improves the game a great deal graphically, and many more recipes for the Horadric Cube.

In single-player mode the game is good. Not overly spectacular, and the chances are after running through the game a few times you will get bored of it - despite the many characters and the many different possible ways you have of building your characters up by where you choose to put your skill and stat points, and the continual hunt for better items. In the end though, this will only draw you back for a short time, the fact is the game, even with the added act, is woefully short and linear, with very few secrets to draw you back, and after a while you will tire of completing the same quests over and over again, killing the same enemies over and over again...

Multiplayer mode, whether it be through TCP/IP or Blizzard's own free gaming server (Bnet), is where there is the most fun to be had. Teaming up with fellow players has a strange way of diminishing the boredom of killing the same enemies and doing the same quests repeatedly experienced in single-player mode. The item-finding aspect of the game takes on a whole new importance too, as online you can trade with other players if you have equipment you don't need that may be of use to someone else. If you have or can find a good group of friends to play with, you'll be hooked for months, if not, you'll have to rely on public Bnet games, where sometimes your fellow human ''allies'' can be more dangerous and irritating than the monsters you're trying to slay. On Bnet you'll experience everything from the ''waht dose this do??????????????'' confused newbie, to the ''I AM BETTER THAN U'' arrogant bastard. Unfortunately, annoying insociable people seem to be attracted to Bnet, but look long and hard enough and you might just be lucky enough to find some nice, honest, friendly people - just don't expect that from everyone you meet.

The 7 playable characters are relatively unique, and have skills and abilities that make playing each one a different experience. Indeed, due to the available customization of your character through different skill point allocations, you can play the same character twice, yet make it a totally different experience, improving the replayability of the game greatly. The characters are somewhat imbalanced though, some are far stronger than others, and the same is true with the character skills available - using some will make the game far easier than using others will. It could be said that this is almost inevitable, and certainly the characters are more balanced here than they were when the original Diablo 2 was first released, but I have to nitpick...

While D2:LoD is a fine and mostly enjoyable game, it could have been better. While the game will entertain you, it will also bore you as you plod along to kill Mephisto for the 4362989678th time. No amount of available characters and character customization can fully make up for this. There are a few bugs still evident, even after the huge level of patching that the Diablo 2 games have received, although none of the bugs are really very critical to the enjoyment of the game.

More than anything though, the game is fun. The gameplay, while being remarkably simple, (point and click, use a hotkey on the keyboard occasionally, point, click, click...) - is fun, and the simplicity is where the fun comes from.

Graphics: 8/10

Yes, it may only be 2-D, but as far as 2-D games go the graphics are good. The characters, monsters, and landscapes all look pleasing to the eye, and dungeon areas look suitably dark and imposing. The new higher resolution graphics option helps greatly too, both in terms of the visual quality and in terms of your sight range. Marks are lost because some of the character animation is a little shoddy and in some areas large objects can obstruct your view of your character completely.

Sound: 7/10

The music is suitably ambient, and contributes to the dark, gloomy atmosphere implied visually in many areas of the game - especially underground areas. Sound effects are nothing special - the bashing sound of your weapon, a ''WHOOSH!'' spellcasting sound, and various monster moans and growls which to be honest get a little annoying after a while.

Gameplay: 9/10

Simple, yet fun. Contains both RPG (level-building, statistical planning) and action/adventure (the combat system) elements, and both are done well. May be a little too simple for some, but most gamers who don't like to think too hard while they're playing will enjoy the game loads. The game is as difficult or as easy as you choose to make it, as choosing different characters and skills has a large effect on how difficult the game becomes when you progress into Nightmare and Hell difficulty.

Replay value:

Single-player 6/10
Multi-player 9/10

You will most likely tire of single-player mode within a few weeks or so, but multi-player mode is like a drug - don't make any plans for a few months. Then, even if you do get bored, there's always Hardcore mode...

Overall (not an average): 9/10

A good, solid game just denied a perfect 10 by a few minor flaws. Go get it - but don't blame me when your friends/boss/parents start wondering where you've disappeared to...

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/15/02, Updated 05/20/02

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